Julia Kamysz Lane

Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

News: Guest Posts
One Dog’s Bed Is Cooper’s Comfort
An old dog bed helped a new pup feel at home

When my brother and his family lost their loyal German Shepherd, Sheba, last year, it was difficult to pull up onto their driveway. I expected to hear that high-pitched, excited whine and the whap, whap, whap of her tail against the chain-link fence. Instead, there was silence. Inside the house, there was an emptiness in space, in the places where Sheba would normally be -- groveling at my feet for a quick pat on the head, howling her heart out for attention, and scampering around the living room carrying her raggedy duck in her mouth. There were also the empty spaces where her things had been –- her food bowls, her leash, her much-loved dog bed.

One couple decided to keep their late dog’s bed up in their bedroom. Eventually, they adopted a new dog from the local shelter. Cooper’s paperwork said he was a good dog but required that you be “very very firm” with him. Poor guy. No wonder he was an anxious little ball of energy. For the first few days, they slept downstairs with him. Finally, he grew bold enough to explore upstairs and he found what they had forgotten –- the old dog bed. He was home.

News: Guest Posts
The Laziest Dog Walker on Earth
Dog owner driven to stupidity

When I ran cross country in high school, I was envious of the boys' team because their coach actually ran with them. Our coach had a different approach. He drove behind us in his car, honking once to speed up and twice to slow down. Occasionally, he'd yell out something quasi motivational, like "Work the hill!" We always competed well and even went to state competition one year, so he was doing something right.

Wish I could say the same for 23-year-old Paul Railton of London. A cyclist spotted him driving his car 5 mph while holding onto his dog’s leash as the poor pooch trotted alongside. Was he training the dog for a marathon or something? Of course not! He admitted to police that there was “an element of laziness” behind his actions. Wow, you think?

News: Guest Posts
Animal Abuser Registry
The state of California is considering it

What if there was a public registry of animal abusers just like sex offenders? State Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) of California wants to create the nation's first statewide registry in hopes of preventing future crimes against animals. Written with the input of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)--which has campaigned for animal abuser registries in all 50 states--the bill would require a convicted animal abuser to register with the police and submit his address, place of employment and a current photo for an online registry. The specific crime would also be mentioned. Do you think a registry would help deter animal abuse in your community? If so, sign the Expose Animal Abusers petition and it will be forwarded to your state representatives.

News: Guest Posts
Dog Kept Three-Year-Old Girl Warm, Safe
The bond between Blue and Victoria saved her life.

Thanks to her loyal Australian Cattle Dog, Blue, three-year-old Victoria Bensch survived freezing overnight temperatures in the desert. She had wandered away from her Phoenix home this past Thursday afternoon. Family and the local authorities frantically searched for the little girl as temperatures dipped in the desert. Thankfully, Friday morning, a sharp-eyed medic flying in a helicopter spotted Victoria cuddled up with Blue about a half mile from her home. The medic, Eric Tarr, was able to rescue both Victoria and Blue and reunite them with the family. My favorite part of the article is when Victoria's aunt says, "I don't even like animals and I hugged that dog so hard!"   

News: Guest Posts
“Demo Was My Snoopy”
A boy inspired by his dog

I’m a huge fan of the children’s book, “Demo: The Story of a Junkyard Dog,” written with wry humor by Jon Bozak and illustrated by Scott Bruns. So I was very sad to hear that the real-life Demo – Bozak’s rescue Pit Bull – passed away just shy of 16 years. Not bad for a 65-pound dog born in a scrap yard. Bozak wrote a moving tribute to Demo that every dog lover should read. The way he measures their time together is both humorous and poignant. Once you’ve finished drying your eyes, buy the book, then tell me about the dog who inspired you.

News: Guest Posts
Amazing Dog Rescuers
Sadly, not everyone thinks these dogs should've been saved.

It’s not unusual to hear about good Samaritans helping out a dog, but lately, people are risking their lives to save a stray. Check out the nail-biting video of firefighters rescuing a German Shepherd mix from the flooded waters of the Los Angeles River.  The lucky dog – now named Vernon for where he was found – is still looking for his rightful owner. If no one claims him, there’s a lengthy list of potential adopters.

Across the globe, another Shepherd mix found himself in trouble. The poor dog got stuck on an ice floe and floated down Poland’s Vistula River and out to the Baltic Sea. He was first spotted on Monday, shivering and scared, and had traveled 75 miles before he was rescued on Thursday by research  scientists aboard the Baltica. Four people have since claimed the now famous “Baltic.”

Not to be outdone, 25-year-old Alvin Clark decided to do whatever it took to find his beloved 7-month-old American Staffordshire Terriers,  Magu and Chulo. Two weeks ago, the pups snuck through a hole in the fence of his suburban Chicago backyard to follow a public works employee. As the man attempted to lead them home, two teenagers pulled up in a truck and picked up the dogs. Devastated, Clark initially offered a $1,000 award without any luck. Thanks to the assistance of two police departments and Clark’s own determined detective work despite some scary scenarios, he got his dogs back.

In all three cases, critics argue that such valuable resources shouldn't be wasted on a dog.  What do you think?


News: Guest Posts
The Fur Is Flying!
Some folks don't think mutts should mix with AKC

At agility class last week, I bumped into an old friend. While catching up, I mentioned how excited I was that my mixed breed, Ginger Peach, could soon compete in AKC agility.

I swear his head nearly spun completely around and he grew red in the face before blurting, "Allowing mixed breeds is an insult to the breeders who spend so much time, energy and money on their breeding programs!"

He then reminded me that a lot of AKC agility shows already fill and it’s hard to get into them now much less when mixed breeds will be allowed, too. I pointed out that clubs have the option to allow mixed breeds at their shows. If their shows already fill, then they likely would not invite the mutts. So far, my tally of 2010 Midwest agility trials allowing mixed breeds was a grand total of four. Not exactly a threat considering there’s an AKC agility trial nearly every weekend year round.

As smoke steamed out of his ears, I glanced around at my instructor and her students. All of the dogs here in class were purebred. Most were from breeders, although there were some rescues, like my two Dalmatians. No mixed breeds. Clearly, I had forgotten the company I was keeping. Did they all feel this way? I felt like a spy, a mixed breed secret agent.

Thankfully, we recognized that this was a hot topic that we were unlikely to agree upon and moved on to a less controversial subject. Even so, I felt uneasy. It was reminiscent of some AKC fanciers’ email list claims that AKC was “slumming” by allowing mixed breeds.  But I know of dogs purchased from pet stores that have AKC registration. How is allowing dogs from puppy mills any different from allowing mixed breeds? In my opinion, the former is morally wrong if you value humane care of animals.

As an AKC agility competitor, animal rescuer, Dalmatian Club of America member, and dedicated lover of rescues and mutts, I feel like I am straddling two very different worlds. Is it possible to reconcile them?

Read this spirited opinion by Heather Houlahan and let me know what you think. 

News: Guest Posts
First Dog Blog
The President’s Portie is no bipartisan!

Last week in my Rally class, a student joked that her dog couldn't make left turns because he was a Republican. Of course, we all cracked up; dogs don't follow a political party. Or do they? Check out First Dog Bo Obama's blog and you might be surprised. He speaks his partisan mind on everything from Haiti's dog victims, to Scott Brown's unexpected Senate win, to race in politics. Bo is also considering a run for the "big enchilada of the South Lawn animal kingdom." I hear there's already a squirrel smear campaign ... .

News: Guest Posts
AKC’s Change of Heart
An early valentine for mixed breeds

As I wrote in an earlier post, the American Kennel Club will allow mixed breed dogs to participate in events such as agility, obedience and Rally starting April 1, 2010. (Hope the April’s Fool date is not a joke!) The organization--whose new core values embraces all dogs--just announced that mixed breed dogs will no longer compete in a separate class or earn separate titles from purebred dogs. Instead, mutts will now go paw to paw with the pedigrees.

I’m thrilled that my young mixed breed dog can compete at the same shows as my rescue Dalmatians, earn the same titles and be included with the rest of the pedigreed pack. There are a lot of AKC trials in my area, which make them convenient. That said, I will continue to support agility venues like USDAA and NADAC and Rally venues like APDT and C-WAGS because they embraced mixed breeds from day one. We'll also continue to show in disc dog events through UFO and Skyhoundz--the only competitions I’ve experienced where mixed breeds and rescues outnumber the pedigreed purebreds. Participants are always friendly and supportive; it is my hope that long-time AKC competitors will foster that same community spirit.

Can mixed breed dog owners and purebred dog owners literally come together and respect each other’s choice of dog? Please share your thoughts.

News: Guest Posts
Why Rescue? Meet Stanley.
Sometimes, one dog just tugs at your heart

Please watch the video and share your feelings about Stanley, rescue and dogs in your life who have received second chances. For updates on Stanley's progress, please go to Respect-A-Bull and his Facebook page.